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- American politician; 53rd Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives
In response to an announcement from the Obama administration that the president would like to speak in front of a joint session of Congress on Wednesday, Sept. 7, the same night as a Republican presidential debate next week, House Speaker John Boehner reminded the president that he needs congressional approval.
In a letter sent to the White House this afternoon, Boehner offered to invite President Obama to Capitol Hill one day later, on Sept. 8. Boehner said the chamber has votes scheduled just a few hours before the address, which Boehner said would not allow enough time for a proper security sweep of the building.
"It is my recommendation that your address be held on the following evening, when we can ensure there will be no parliamentary or logistical impediments that might detract from your remarks," Boehner wrote. "We look forward to hearing your ideas and working together to solve America's jobs crisis."
The first game of this year's National Football League season, between the Green Bay Packers and the New Orleans Saints, is also scheduled for Thursday night.
A Boehner spokesman said that the White House did not consult Republican leadership before announcing the date of his address.
"No one in the Speaker's office--not the Speaker, not any staff--signed off on the date the White House announced today. Unfortunately we weren't even asked if that date worked for the House," said Boehner Press Secretary Brendan Buck. "Shortly before it arrived this morning, we were simply informed that a letter was coming. It's unfortunate the White House ignored decades--if not centuries--of the protocol of working out a mutually agreeable date and time before making any public announcement."
Read the full letter below:
Dear Mr. President:
Thank you for your letter requesting time to address a Joint Session of Congress next week. I agree that creating a better environment for job creation must be our most urgent priority. For months, the House has been implementing an agenda designed to reduce economic uncertainty, remove unnecessary government barriers to private-sector job creation, and help small businesses, and we welcome the opportunity to hear your latest proposals.
As your spokesperson today said, there are considerations about the Congressional calendar that must be made prior to scheduling such an extraordinary event. As you know, the House of Representatives and Senate are each required to adopt a Concurrent Resolution to allow for a Joint Session of Congress to receive the President. And as the Majority Leader announced more than a month ago, the House will not be in session until Wednesday, September 7, with votes at 6:30 that evening. With the significant amount of time — typically more than three hours — that is required to allow for a security sweep of the House Chamber before receiving a President, it is my recommendation that your address be held on the following evening, when we can ensure there will be no parliamentary or logistical impediments that might detract from your remarks. As such, on behalf of the bipartisan leadership and membership of both the House and Senate, I respectfully invite you to address a Joint Session of Congress on Thursday, September 8, 2011 in the House Chamber, at a time that works best for your schedule.
We look forward to hearing your ideas and working together to solve America's jobs crisis.